Vaccines and Preventable Diseases:
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination
Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.
On This Page:
For Health Professionals:
For the Media:
What You Should Know
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – What You Need To Know NEW Jan 2009
- Brief description
Symptoms, treatment, transmission, etc.
- Questions and Answers
- About pertussis and pertussis vaccination
Parent's Guide to Childhood Immunization (screen-reader version)
- Pictures of Pertussis
Warning: Some of these photos are quite graphic.
- Why personal exemptions increase the spread of pertussis disease (exit)
Article abstract "Nonmedical Exemptions to School Immunization Requirements" (JAMA 2006;296:1757-1763.)
- Travelers information
Information and updates on risks for travelers, precautions, prevention, etc.
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccines
There are four combination vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. Two of these (DTaP and DT) are given to children younger than 7 years of age, and two (Tdap and Td) are given to older children and adults.
Children should get 5 doses of DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months and 4-6 years. DT does not contain pertussis, and is used as a substitute for DTaP for children who cannot tolerate pertussis vaccine.
Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or after an exposure to tetanus under some circumstances. Tdap is similar to Td but also containing protection against pertussis. A single dose of Tdap is recommended for adolescents 11 or 12 years of age, or in place of one Td booster in older adolescents and adults age 19 through 64.
(Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The “a” in DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.)
- As an infant, preteen/adolescent or adult, do I need this vaccine?
(describes when and which vaccine you should receive)
- Side Effects
- Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) (DTaP & Tdap)
- Precautions, side-effects, and combination vaccines
Parents Guide to Immunizations (screen-reader version)
- Questions and answers about the vaccines (exit)
about the various vaccines (DTaP, Tdap)
- School Vaccine Requirements
- SIDS Not Linked to Number & Variety of Childhood Vaccines (exit)
Institute of Medicine report
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Vaccines
- Febrile Seizures After MMR and DTP Vaccinations
As with all vaccines, there can be minor reactions, including pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue or a vague feeling of discomfort.
- Are vaccines safe? (exit)
FAQs on The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website
- Multiple or combined vaccines and the immune system
- CDC's Vaccine Safety website
- Hot Topics (exit)
Vaccine safety topics on The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website
- Lessening the Pain of Vaccines (exit)
Techniques worth trying
- What if we stopped vaccinating for this disease?
- Who should not be vaccinated with Pertussis vaccine?
- Pregnancy guidelines
- Prevention of Pertussis...Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women and their Infants MMWR: May 14, 2008 / 57(Early Release);1-47
For Health Professionals
- Technical information
Clinical Features, Etiologic Agent, Incidence, Complications, Transmission, Risk Groups, Surveillance, Trends, Challenges, etc.
the Experts (exit)
CDC experts (medial officers, medical epidemiologists, etc.)
- Immunization of Healthcare Workers
- Proper handling of Dt, Td, DTaP, DTaP/Hib, DTaP/Hepb/IPV, Tdap vaccines
- Pediarix vaccine: questions and answers
- Tdap vaccine: recommendations, press release, etc.
- NIPINFO answers your questions about Dtap, Td, and DT
- NIPINFO answers your questions about Pediarix
- ACIP recommendations
- Prevention of Pertussis, Tetanus, and Diphtheria Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women and their Infants (ACIP Recommendations)
MMWR: May 14, 2008 / 57(Early Release);1-47
- (Tdap) recommended for adolescents aged 11-18 years (exit)
- Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations (exit) July 2008
- Standing Orders (exit)
- ACIP - Vaccines for Children (VFC) Resolution
- See also other VFC materials re Tdap
- Related MMWR articles, links, and references
- More MMWRs on DTaP
- Pink Book's chapter on Pertussis
Epidemiology & Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases textbook
- Surveillance manual's chapter on Pertussis
Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases textbook
- Travelers Health: Yellow Book
- Guidelines for control of Pertussis outbreaks
- Infection control guidelines
- Check Your Vials: Is it Tdap, DTaP, or Td? (exit)
Source: California Department of Health Services, Immunization Branch
- Tdap printable materials (exit)
Source: California Distance Learning Health Network
- Clinical education slide set
from the "Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases" course
- Important Facts for Parents to Know about the Pertussis Vaccine (exit)
- Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) (DTaP & Tdap)
- "Give Your Kid
A Boost!" campaign (exit) August 2008
National Association of School Nurses' (NASN) offers resources to help educate parents, preteens, and teens about the need for a dose of Tdap for protection against pertussis.
- Parents: Protect Yourself and Your Children from Whooping Cough (Flyer) (exit)
California Department of Health Services, Immunization Branch
- Grandparents: Protect Yourself and Your Grandbaby from Whooping Cough (Flyer) (exit) California Department of Health Services, Immunization Branch
- Stories of people who suffered or died from vaccine-preventable diseases (exit)
- Pertussis: Questions and Answers (exit)
Ready-to-print versions of one of the CDC-reviewed Q&A material located on IAC's Vaccine Information website (www.vaccineinformation.org) Dated 2/07
For the Media
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Content last reviewed on June 1, 2007
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases